County Supervisors to Hear Sexual Assault Report on Incarcerated Youth

The number of sexual abuse cases involving kids behind bars nearly doubled last year when compared to 2011. The disturbing increase occurred in spite of declining populations at Santa Clara County Juvenile Hall and William F. James Ranch.

The county recorded 128 incidents of “sexually inappropriate behavior” by youth between 2004 and 2012, with the number of incidents jumping from six reported in 2011 to 11 in 2012.

Those figures come from the county’s probation department, which is asking the Board of Supervisors to approve a $99,965 grant award to implement Prison Rape Elimination Act rules and procedures. The number of sexual assault cases involving staff wasn’t included in the report going before supervisors Tuesday.

The funding will help pay for a coordinator to manage rape prevention, reporting and treatment. The plan is to help juvenile hall and the James Ranch better prevent, detect and respond to rape and other sex crimes by or against kids and jail workers.

Probation tracks sexual assault incidents on two databases. One documents cases of youth who commit sex crimes, the other for staff who face criminal allegations.

“It should be noted that the reliability of this data is limited due to the lack of a specific local policy to inform residents about how to report sexual abuse and the fear of retaliation that may prevent youth from reporting such incidents since [prison rape elimination] standards have not yet been adopted,” the county memo notes.

Nationwide, 1.8 percent of incarcerated kids reported non-consensual youth-on-youth sexual misconduct, not including touching, according to a 2010 Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report on sexual victimization in juvenile facilities. The county’s percentage mirrored the national average.

But the figures might be understated. Probation staff will train juvenile hall workers and the jailed kids to report incidents once they happen and quickly respond with treatment and sensitivity training.

“Detection will be accomplished by establishing an assessment and orientation unit in juvenile hall that will be responsible for assessing the risk youth poses of becoming sexually abused or sexually abusive; creating a mechanism for youth to report sexual abuse without the involvement of probation staff; and creating a [prison rape elimination] orientation video to ensure youth receive information about their rights and available services related to sexual abuse,” the county memo states.
Probation will also team up with the county’s Rape Crisis Center to provide treatment.

“Response will be accomplished by providing rape and sexual abuse sensitivity training to medical and mental health staff to ensure each abused youth is treated by especially sensitive staff who understand the psychological dynamics of rape and sexual abuse and providing youth with access to a sexual abuse advocate through the county’s Rape Crisis Center.”

Specifically, the grant will pay for $4,040 in printed materials, $11,440 in advocacy education, $62,880 for a consultant, $1,105 for bulletin boards and $5,500 for sexual abuse assessment tools and screening.

More from the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors agenda for April 23, 2013:

• A medication called Buprenorphine is helping wean some of the county’s homeless off opioid dependence from heroin and prescription pain meds, according to the Valley Homeless Healthcare Program, which will present its annual report to supervisors.

Opioid addiction is considered one of the most preventable conditions that causes life lost to disability and death, according to Dr. Sara Doorley, head of the homeless healthcare program. It’s increasingly becoming a national health problem. But administering Buprenorphine locally has helped some local homeless people increase income, find a job and reduce emergency room visits. Doorley says the healthcare program had to expand the addiction service because of a growing need. It now serves up to 20 patients a week.

• The Valley Health Plan grew more than expected this year, seeing an enrollment growth rate 21 percent more than projected. That means a positive budget adjustment of $27.2 million, according to the mid-year budget adjustment report.

• The Social Services Agency needs supervisorial approval to buy $646,554 in technology upgrades, including video conferencing equipment and server and switch modules.

• The Department of Alcohol and Drug Services is asking supervisors to approve a number of outreach and prevention programs funded by a collective $4.1 million in grant money.

• Supervisors will consider renewing $5.7 million in insurance contracts for dental and vision benefits for the county’s in-home care providers.

• Since 1998, the Mt. Hamilton area has relied on county help and volunteers for fire protection. Supervisors will consider paying $65,345 to pay for a couple CalFIRE captains to train more volunteers to help out in the most underserved parts of the county.

WHAT: Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors meet
WHEN: 9am Tuesday
WHERE: County Government Center, 70 W. Hedding St., San Jose
INFO: [email protected]

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.

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